THE MAGIC BOX

Well, that’s it. The end of an era, and the start of a new one.

I’m going to have to change my morning routine. Every morning when I wake up, I put on Ceefax – 101, 160, 501, 390, 302 – but not any more, as Northern Ireland’s analogue transmitters were switched off.

The last ever Pages From Ceefax (a curious watch when you had to be up early in the morning) ended with this self mocking message.

This was commemorated by a joint broadcast from BBCNI and UTV, the rather excellent ‘The Magic Box’ – a look back at television in Northern Ireland in the analogue era.

It was a star studded event (well, Frank Mitchell and Uncle Andy were there) but I got an e-mail a few weeks back offering me the opportunity to apply for tickets. I was tempted, but I thought this was a TV event best viewed, well, in front of a TV screen. I’m glad I did.

I was curious when reading the TV Guide on Saturday that the UTV show was scheduled to last for five minutes longer. That, was to become clear later on.

If you haven’t seen it, I seriously suggest you watch it. A link can be found here.

It began, being introduced with the classic BBC Globe Ident. Already, we’re off to a winner. I love it when the BBC does retro idents around themed events (Like when BBC 2 did 1970s Idents when introducing a season of programmes dedicated to the 1970s, fronted by Dominic Sandbrook)

From there, a comic turn, as continuity duties were handed to Julian Simmons, struggling to grasp that he was on the BBC (He has previously been on the BBC, playing himself in Give My Head Peace) and not being able to say “Simulcast” – a brilliant tribute to/gag at the expense of Ivan “Phenomenon” Little.

On a night dedicated to celebrating TV in Northern Ireland, it would have been criminal not to have Julian Simmons involved, although it was a man who has overtaken him as Northern Ireland’s most famous Continuity Announcer, Peter Dickson who introduced Eamonn Holmes in the studio.

Holmes was one of many stars we got to see in a younger day, as we were treated to a wide range of clips, in terms of subject matter, era and tone. Having looked back, and laughed at, some of life’s more light hearted moments, as well as looking back at news reports from the troubles, as well as Chris Moore talking about his expose of child abuse in the Catholic church

If you wish to see a young Eamonn Holmes, as a sports reporter for UTV (He looks like Dimitar Berbatov) – check out this excellent clip of ITV’s 1982 World Cup coverage where he interviews Sammy Mackie.

Another well known face who began his career as a sports reporter (for the BBC) was also in the audience.

The five minute time difference in the schedule was explained as BBC went off air just after 23:30, and that UTV would go off air just before 23:35.

The BBC ending was fantastic. Superbly scripted and filmed. Once the end credits finished, a quick announcement explaining the situation was read out, before cutting to the 70s Ident, before fading out to reveal a series of TVs showing past BBC Idents (and even the Ceefax home page)

Credit to Continuity Announcer Mark Simpson for an excellent read out.

That was it. Analogue BBC, and Ceefax, was no more.

UTV’s ending was rather disappointing in comparision to BBC, very matter of fact, moving on to the next programme.

It would have been brilliant if they could have used an ident or idents incorporating this logo in their final analogue moments

So, to end, here’s five (well, six really) classic Northern Ireland Youtube Clips that probably should have been mentioned on The Magic Box.

HONOURABLE MENTION – JIM ‘CRAZY PRICES’ MEGAW

5 – JULIAN SIMMONS

Not an exact moment, but a Julian Simmons Best Of would have been brilliant.

4 – NORTHERN IRELAND DISCO DANCING CHAMPIONSHIP 1981

3 – BELFAST MUSIC SCENE 1986

Technically, an RTE clip, but let’s not let that get in the way of how brilliant this clip is. It’s amazing how some parts of South Belfast have barely changed over the past 26 years.

2. CATS IN THE CRADLE

This advert scared the life out of me when I was wee. Everytime I hear the song (even if it’s the Ugly Kid Joe or Jason Downs cover) I always think of this ad

1. GOAL OF THE SEASON 94/95

So, Lionel Messi has spent his whole career paying tribute to Joey Cunningham.

The season I first started going to Linfield matches.

A different era back then. Linfield began the season as reigning Champions and Cup holders, before ending up languishing in 8th.

Oh.

THE FIFTEEN SINS OF TWITTER

I love Twitter, but there is one thing that gets on my wick about it. Two little letters …… R and T, and more, the abuse of this function.

What is an RT? It’s hard to explain to someone who isn’t on Twitter, as it is pure Twitter jargon.

It stands for Retweet, basically, it’s like forwarding on an e-mail or passing on information. If something is informative or funny, people can RT it, basically to say “This is something i’ll share with you, but I didn’t say it. It was said by ……”

It’s worth pointing out that people may RT something to highlight it, rather than endorsing it.

Don’t get me wrong, the RT function when used rightly, can be such a good thing, as recently seen during the recent Belfast Floods, where MLAs and Councillors posted advice on how to claim assistance and who to contact, and people forwarded it on.

Politicians and members of the public were regularly posting bulletins on where to avoid. This was Twitter at it’s best. I have benefitted from RTs and forwarding of information, as I have found out about events happening in Belfast from people I don’t follow, and even discovered accounts worth following via this way.

Over the past 18 months, a new trend has emerged where people ask celebs/journalists/organisations for RTs, often spamming peoples timelines with drivel.

So here, are the 15 types of offender. I’m not wanting to come across as the Twitter Police, but it would be bloody great if we could deport these people to Menschn.

1. GRIEF TWEETS

The biggest offenders on Twitter. The term is Dianafication, though it must be stated, somebody can be Dianafied if they’re still alive.

2012 has given Grief Junkies many opportunities to infest Twitter, such as the on pitch heart attack of Fabrice Muamba, Tweeters flocked to their computers to ask celebs for RTs.

Pls RT so that #prayformuamba can trend

Please explain to me how a hashtag is going to make someone better?

Or am I a Luddite living in the best for believing in stuff such as Doctors, Medicine and the NHS?

People tried to outdo each other in a rather grotesque manner to ask celebs to endorse their grief.

Seemingly, posting that they wish for him to make a recovery isn’t enough.

When Stilyan Petrov was diagnosed with Lukemia, the Grief Junkies were out in force to ask for RTs to get #prayforpetrov trending.

The captain of a Premier League club from a major city being seriously ill is hardly going to struggle to trend. But again, how is a trending topic going to make someone better?

There was even a Twitter account set up in his name, it’s only posts being RT requests to Aston Villa players, and hasn’t been updated for three months. Whoever set it up obviously found a new bandwagon to jump on.

Claire Squires tragic death during the London Marathon is one other such example, as Twitter was full of people asking for RTs to link her JustGiving page.

That wasn’t in any way morbid.

2. I HAVE A BLOG

A scourge amongst football journalists, who seem to believe in some unwritten rule about helping others on the way up.

It seems that every 17 year old boy in Britain is busy asking football journalists for RTs for their blog about wether ABC or RPM is the better manager? Should England adopt Spains Tricky Tapas style of play? Is Spain’s False Eyeliner formation the future of football?

I really couldn’t care. If I did, I would be following you. Go out and discover girls and Blue WKd. It’s a lot more fun than asking football journalists for RTs.

3. CHARITY REQUESTS

I’M DOING A CHARITY FUNRUN OR SOMETHING, PLEASE RT!!!!!!!!

Worst thing is, celebs RT this sort of thing because some PR advisor is telling them to do so.

Sob stories are optional.

4. MY MATE’S SHOP

A spin-off of Point 3, as people ask celebs for RTs to give publicity for some new business venture.

The hilarious thing is, celebs advertise crap for free on Twitter they wouldn’t do in person if they were paid.

5. EVERYONE’S A POIROT

A spin-off of Point 1, Missing Person stories seem to bring out the worst in Twitter Grief Junkies.

Despite being highlighted in the media and being handled by trained professionals, people on Twitter feel as if it is their duty to find them.

Do they go out and help with the search? Erm, no, they fire off RT requests to celebs. And this helps how?

6. GOOD LUCK TWEETS

Got an exam coming up? Don’t bother revising, just ask a celeb for a Good Luck RT and you’ll definately pass.

If Point 1 s the Dianafication of Twitter, then this is the HugoDuncanification of Twitter.

7. SATURDAY MORNING FOOTBALL TWEETS

Quiet at the moment, but just wait until August, as every Saturday morning, footballers will be RTing RT requests from people who are on a bus en route to a football match.

I’m going to the game today, pls RT

Now, I go and watch Linfield most weeks, but do I need to get Michael Gault to share this with Twitter? Erm, no.

So footballers, please stop RTing this drivel and just concentrate on the game.

8. COMIC RELIEF

A seasonal one this, only arising when one of the BBC’s charity galas are on TV.

Instead of lying in a bath of baked beans, people now ask celebs for RTs, using Comic Relief as a front.

For every RT I get, i’ll give £1 to charity. Pls RT.

Just give £20 to charity and get the fuck off my timeline.

9. AWARENESS

Please RT to raise awareness of something.

Yeah, cheers for that, what am I supposed to do with this new found awareness?

10. SICK KIDS

Another spin-off of Point 1, where people adopt sick kids as a cause celebre, come up with a catchy hashtag and ask celebs for RTs.

Worst ones are the “Bucket list” ones, where seemingly every sick kid dreams of trending on Twitter before they die. I trended on Twitter once (In London, after doing a joke about Delia Smith which got RTed so many times) and it was OK, nothing special.

11. BIRTHDAY RTs

Please RT it’s my birthday.

Congratulations, you’ve managed to wake up and not die on 365 successive occasions. Well done, you truly are a giant amongst humanity.

Worst ones are “An RT would make my day”

If getting an RT off a celeb is “The highlight of my day” I think you need a pretty serious life re-evaluation.

12. BIG FAN

I’m a big fan, please RT.

Erm, yeah. Thanks for sharing that with us.

13. CAUSES

Pls RT to get signatures for this petition, or some hashtag urging us to boycott products, brands or countries, or even Alan Davies (Especially stuff I don’t buy or countries I don’t visit)

Now, I follow politicians on Twitter, and if people want to tweet about politics, that’s no problem, but I don’t want people ramming their political ideas down my throat if I don’t follow them.

If a message needs an RT from a celeb, it’s clearly not a strong message.

14. STAN TWEETS

You know the song ‘Stan‘ by Eminem, about an obsessed fan wanting to be friends with a celebrity? Yeah, that.

People who begin RT requests with “How come you never RT me?”

That is in no way sinister or threatening.

15. MORE FOLLOWERS

Pls RT so I can get more followers.

You know, you would probably get more followers if you didn’t spam Twitter with RT requests to get more followers. Just saying.

On the other side of the fence, celebs who do “I’ll follow someone at random of everyone who RTs this” tweets.

If Gary Barlow wants to follow me on Twitter, he’s more than welcome. I sure ain’t going to beg for it Gary.

EUROBOLLOCKS – THE KNOCKOUT STAGES

The group stages are over and the serious stuff was ready to begin, as eight sides battled to be crowned the Champions of Europe.

First up, were Czech Republic and Portugal, in a game that was known as The Cristiano Ronaldo Show.

Christiano Ronaldo was on a one-man mission to get Portugal into the Semi-Finals, which he succeeded in doing, winning the game, and the heart of Jonathan Pearce, in a show of fawning not seen on the BBC since they wheeled out a load of 40 something minor celebs to reminisce about the Bay City Rollers and David Cassidy et al on the ‘I Love The 70s’ series during the early 00s

To give you an idea of the mancrush, when Ronaldo scored, Pearce let out a scream not heard since Volcanosaurus obliterated Titanorator in the 1999 Robot Wars final.

Meanwhile, Portugal had a penalty shout in the first-half, to which Martin Keown commented “It’s just like WWE”

You have to admire Martin Keown for his research, as most football commentators describe penalty area manhandling as “It’s just like WWF” which as everyone knows, is no longer the name for the Wrestling organisation.

Next up, was Germany v Greece, or, Christmas for people who like doing shit topical jokes.

You see, Germany are meeting Greece in the Euros (And I fucking hate that term, it’s the European Championship) and off the pitch Germany and Greece are in some shit about the Euro, the currency, or something like that.

Having covered the FA Cup for the last four years, ITV have perfected the art of being patronisingly biased towards an underdog, and my word, ITV made sure Greece were the mid table League Two side of Euro 2012.

ITV were so biased, if Greece won, I would have expected them to cut back to the studio, and Adrian Chiles is dressed like he is in Dad’s Army, and proceeds to sing “Who do you think you are kidding Angela Merkel?”

Thankfully, Jamie Carragher wasn’t on punditry duty for that game, and thus, we were spared him talking about the nucleus of the Germany team that plays for Beyyynnn Mooonik.

Greece were heroically holding the Germans 0-0 for a long period of time, promptong co-commentator Jim Beglin to remark that “Germany are struggling to break down the Greece wall” which was surprising, as if any country specialised in breaking down a wall, it was Germany.

The following night, Spain met France in a game which was boring, which prompted a debate as to wether Spain are boring.

Spain are boring, but it’s boring to say that Spain are boring, but it’s boring to say it’s boring to say that Spain are boring.

I don’t know what position to take in this debate.

Sunday night, the one we are all waiting for, England v Italy.

Italy of course, are in decline with their worst ever team, there should only be one winner.

Before the match coverage had even started, modern journalism hit a nadir, as journalists queued up to provide live coverage of the England team getting off the bus at the stadium.

Yes, live coverage of people getting off a bus.

The pre-match analysis focused on the job Roy Hodgson had done with England, with Alan Hansen commenting on his ill-fated spell at Liverpool “It was the first time he’d managed a big club”

In Alan Hansen’s parallell universe, 18 time Siere A champions and 3 time European champions Inter Milan aren’t a big club.

Any big match these days isn’t complete without a wanky pre-match montage, and England v Italy didn’t disappoint. It wasn’t the worst one of the tournament though, as the BBC previewed England’s match against Sweden with a Joe Hart montage.

No harm to Joe Hart, but he’s a goalkeeper. You know a team is crap when the goalkeeper gets a montage. Prior to England’s opening game, the BBC had a montage of Stewart Downing prepared but had to scrap it.

It wasn’t the fact that Downing wasn’t selected for the game against France that saw the montage scrapped, but the fact that they couldn’t find any footage of him scoring or setting up a goal for Liverpool.

Italy is of course, the home of dirty tricks, and they pulled a real dirty trick by unveiling a player nobody had ever heard of before, Andrea Pirlo.

Apparantly, Andrea Pirlo has two European Cup winners medals and a World Cup winners medal, while Scott ‘Scotty’ Parker starred in a McDonalds advert. Amazingly, Pirlo turned out to be a bit better than England’s midfield.

England were in trouble, and Alan Shearer had a cunning plan …… that England should bring on Andy Carroll as “Italy won’t have played against a player like him”

In Alan Shearer’s parallell universe, there are no tall players in Siere A.

Ironcially, when Andy Carroll did come on, the only person who struggled with him was commentator Guy Mowbray, who kept calling him ‘Ashley Caroll’

And so to penalties, the most frustrating part was that Italy’s Christian Maggio didn’t take a penalty, purely for the commentator to say “So here’s to you Christian Maggio, a nation turns it’s lonely eyes to you …….”

So, England lost, and the end credit montage music was an acoustic cover version of ‘In The End’ by Linkin Park. Hadn’t England fans suffered enough?

The first Semi-Final between Spain and Portugal was boring, which wasn’t surprising as Spain are … wait, what’s the official line?

As the game was in extra-time, Martin Keown spoke for no-one when he commented “Nobody wants penalties”

Fuck off! When a game we don’t care who wins goes to extra-time, the thought of a penalty shoot-out is the only thing that keeps us going throughout extra-time.

The following night, as Italy went 2-0 up against Germany, Jonathan Pearce described it as “A major upset”

Yes, four time World Champions Italy now reduced to that status of a League Two team in the FA Cup 3rd Round.

Balotelli’s two goals against Germany made Alan Shearer look stupid (nothing new there) who dismissed him as “Having done nothing in his career”

When this was brought up in the build-up to the final, Shearer um ahhed that he meant at international level.

Fair point.

In an unrelated note, Lionel Messi has done nothing of note in his career*

(*In Irish League football, how many County Antrim Shields has he won?)

And so, to the game itself, Spain go 1-0 up through David Silva, prompting Guy Mowbray to quip “Silva strikes Gold for Spain”

No mater how many times you say it, it’s a pun which just doesn’t work.

I’m not even sure what the final score was, as I was too busy watching the match on CBBC.

Yes!!! CBBC showed the game live with various stars commentating on the game, including Hacker T Dog, who unsurprisingly made more sense than Mark Lawrenson and Andy Townsend combined.

If only this had existed in past European Championship finals.

Just imagine Saturday Swapshops’ Noel Edmonds and Keith Chegwin commentating on Panenka’s chip, or a Dream Team of Sarah Greene, Edd The Duck and Gordon The Gopher commentaing on Marco Van Basten’s goal against the Soviet Union.

And so, that was it, Euro 2012 was over, there was only one more battle …….. the end credit montage-off.

ITV had ‘Tonight Tonight’ by Smashing Pumpkins, while BBC went with an acoustic version of ‘Thriller’ by Michael Jackson that was so depressing, it was almost as if Mark Lawrenson was singing it.

Fair to say, ITV won the montage-off.

Gary Lineker signed out on “The reign of spain continues in Ukraine”

I’ll go fucking insane if Gary Lineker tries a joke like that again.

EUROBOLLOCKS – WEEK 2

The second week of Euro 2012 began in Donetsk, then stopped for an hour, then started again, with the farcical Ukraine v France game.

With live coverage of the Ukraine v France game getting in the way of their preview of England v Sweden, it was almost as if ITV prayed for an abandonment, and God replied “You want to talk about England for three hours? FINE! You bloody well talk about England for three hours”

I’d like to think if ITV did do a deal with God, it would involve them begging for forgiveness for Andy Townsend’s Tactics Truck, and just Andy Townsend in general.

With airtime now needing to be filled, ITV had the right man in their presenting chair, as all ten of Daybreak’s viewers can testify, Adrian Chiles is an expert at inane chatter and utter bollocks.

You can’t help but imagine what it would have been like if this game was being used as the punchline in a French version of The Likely Lads where they try to avoid the score in a football match that they have recorded.

UEFA’s rules state that any abandoned or postponed match must be replayed the following day. This would have been problematic for England if their match was abandoned or postponed with them due to fly to Krakow after the game, meaning they would all need to find a hotel for the night at short notice.

I’m kind of imagining it being like The Jolly Boy’s Outing episode of Only Fools and Horses where they all split up into different groups to try and find a hotel bed for the night. You could possibly write a sitcom about it. I’m already imagining John Terry in the Trigger role, standing alone, wearing a sombrero and carrying a toy donkey, saying “Alright Dave” everytime he sees James Milner.

England began with a 1-1 draw against France, despite one of their most high profile performers being unfairly banned by UEFA. Not Wayne Rooney, but the England Supporters Band. They were back with avengance against Sweden, managing to do an even worse version of Seven Nation Army than Marcus Collins.

With an hour gone in the Friday night game, Sweden led England 2-1, with the most unlikeliest of names on the scoresheet. Andy Carroll.

With England in trouble and facing elimination, Theo Walcott is brought on off the bench, but Mark Lawrenson was even more unenthused than usual with the change.

“Walcott’s been living off one good performance four years ago” said Mark Lawrenson, living off winning a few trophies with Liverpool in the 1980s

One goal and one assist later, we clearly see why Roy Hodgson is an international manager and Mark Lawrenson isn’t.

The following night, Greece shock Russia 1-0 to go through to the Quarter-Finals. As the Greek players celebrated at the full-time whistle, Mark Bright remarks “That it’s a case of Deja Vu from Euro 2004″

Hmm, Greece beat Portugal, drew with Spain, then lost to Russia in 2004 to reach the Quarter-Finals. In 2012, they drew with Poland, lost to Czech Republic then beat Russia to reach the Quarter-Finals.

It’s not really a case of Deja Vu is it?

The only real Deja Vu with Euro 2004 and Euro 2012 was that Mark Bright as probably talking bollocks in Portugal as well.

In the other game that night, Poland were eliminated with a 1-0 defeat to Czech Republic. In the post-match analysis, the BBC did a live OB with Damien Johnson, at a rather glum fanpark in Gdansk.

When handing over, Gary Lineker remarks “It was …… murder on Gdansk floor”, a joke that was trending on Twitter in reference to Republic of Ireland getting passacred by Spain. It wasn’t funny then, and it wasn’t funny when out of context two days later.

In Lineker’s defence, it is the second best Sophie Ellis-Bextor related football gag after the one about her being found dead at the home of a French footballer. Police said it was ………. Murder On Zidane’s Floor.

That’s the level of shit PUN-ditry you should be aiming for Gary.

Meanwhile, the fate of Group C went right down into injury time, or should that be injurytime.com?

Yes, Mark Bright managed to stoop to a new low towards the end of the Spain-Croatia game by saying “The game is going into the lastminute.com” and a nation collectively screamed FUCKOFF.COM!!! at their TV screeens.

I’m not a fan of product placement, so I won’t be using this blog to plug employment agencies that Mark Bright can use for work seeing as he won’t be commentating on football matches any more.

That match was on BBC 1, with Republic of Ireland v Italy moved to BBC 3 in another sickening act of British opression over Ireland, which somehow passed as a story in the Belfast Telegraph.

This is the last European Championship with 16 teams, as the competition expands to 24 teams from 2016 onwards.

Pundits and journalists have been quick to complain about this, that the quality of the competition will decline, if teams who finish 3rd in their qualifying group reach the finals. They’ve got a point. Just imagine how rubbish Euro 2008 would have been if England were in it.

The most bizarre incident of the tournament came when Niklas Bendnter was banned and fined for exposing his underpants with the brand name of a bookmaker after scoring a goal.

I watched the incident and was shocked at what I saw ……. Niklas Bendtner scored a goal.

On Tuesday, England faced a vital game with Ukraine where they needed to avoid defeat to ensure reaching the Quarter-Finals.

In the first-half, England were struggling and lucky to be drawing 0-0, with Wayne Rooney looking lethargic and off the pace after his suspension.

Early in the second-half, England get the vital goal through Wayne Rooney, looking refreshed and rejuvinated after his enforced break.

This set up a Quarter-Final with Italy. Italy shouldn’t even bother turning up if the pundits are to be believed, as they appear to have taken on the Germany role of being “In decline” with “Their worst ever team”

Quite what Emiliano from Milano, ITV’s star of Week 1 would make of that, is anyone’s guess.

Next week’s Eurobollocks will be fun, focusing on the fallout of Italy’s dramatic 1-0 win with a 93rd minute handball goal from Mario Balotelli, stood in an offside position.

Wonder will ITV’s panel be quick to describe it as “A bit of luck they deserve” and that “These things even themselves out” as they were when briefly discussing Ukraine’s wrongly disallowed goal on Tuesday night?

EUROBOLLOCKS – WEEK 1

We are now one week into this “Festival of football” which is harder to win than the World Cup, and always guarantees heavyweight clashes in the group stages.

Not only that, it guarantees bullshit punditry. I haven’t watched every game of the competition, but what I have watched hasn’t failed to see me bang my head against the wall at some of the punditry.

In the opening game between Greece and Poland, Mark Bright commented that neither side should provide too much concern to the players of Russia and Czech Republic “Sat in their hotel rooms with their feet up watching this” – Despite the fact that there was less than an hour before kick-off in that game.

As the game meandered to a draw, both commentators spoke about how “The opening games in tournaments are always draws” without any statistical analysis to back it up, suggesting that they were just spouting off cliches as the game entered the stage “When it is all about who wants to win it” and “Both teams will settle for a draw”

During the Poland-Greece game “Sir Chesney” trended on Twitter, in reference to Mark Bright’s pronounciation of Poland’s goalkeeper rather than Chesney Hawkes getting an overdue knighthood. At the end of the game Gary Lineker joked about it. It’s enough to make you want all analysis to be a blank screen with a compilation of tweets appearing on the screen.

The following day was Group B, taking on the role of “The Group Of Death”, though not literally.

BBC’s intro to coverage of Holland v Denmark began with a montage of previous “Groups of Death” which was hopelessly flawed. The montage included England’s Euro 88 group, though possibly because they were shite and lost all three games, and ignored the fact that the other Euro 88 group (Spain, Italy, West Germany, Denmark) was actually tougher.

Other “Groups of Death” ignored were the Euro 92 group with both Euro 88 finalists and the 1990 World Cup winners, and the Euro 2000 group with the Euro 96 finalists competing against the winners of 84, 88 and 92.

If you’re going to do a montage, at least do it right.

The Holland v Denmark game took place in Kharkiv at a stadium, which according to Jonathan Pearce, “Cost 50m Pound Euro to build” – I literally have no fucking idea what that means. Is it some sort of supercurrency he has created?

Denmark ended up getting a surprise 1-0 win, which some commentators seemed to equate with a non-league side winning at Old Trafford in the FA Cup 3rd Round.

Denmark, currently 9th in the FIFA Rankings, have reached the European Championships 7 out of the last 8 times, won it in 1992 and reached the Quarter-Finals as recently as 2004 ……. and yet BBC’s pundits and commentators viewed their win over Holland as a massive shock.

ITV have taken the step of hosting their coverage in the middle of Warsaw, doing their pre-match analysis of Spain v Italy in a cafe. You were kinda hoping the guy in the table behind them would be looking at porn on his laptop. Instead, we got Emiliano from Milano to give his opinions.

When talking about Italy, we are informed that “This is not a great Italian side” and “Italian football in decline” as Italy now appear to take on the Germany role of the footballing giant that pundits lazily declare as in decline with their worst ever team.

Meanwhile, Gordon Strachan’s analysis of Croatia v Republic of Ireland suggested that Republic’s players would be more hungry for this game, having not been in a tournament for ten years, and that Croatia players might be blase at always reaching tournemants. Croatia failed to qualify for the most recent international tournament.

Meanwhile, on Monday night, co-hosts Ukraine beat Sweden 2-1 in a game which, according to Lee Dixon “Had everything – two World Class players on the scoresheet”

Yes, the game that “Had everything” had two players scoring. That was it.

The “Had everything” is of course, a classic Shearerism, and not to be outdone, our hero reeled it out after a timefilling montage of Holland v Germany matches.

According to Shearer, Marco Van Basten “Had everything – pace and power”

Yes, according to Shearer, the player who ‘had everything’ only had two skills, basically running very fast and charging past people.

ITV, based in the centre of Warsaw, quite literally in the thick of the action as Polish and Russian hooligans beat seven bells out of each other nearby meant everytime Gordon Strachan opened his mouth, he was immediately drowned out by police sirens.

Last time there was that number of police sirens blasting out on ITV in the evening was in the glory days of The Bill.

Talking of grudge matches, the BBC weren’t slow in hyping up Holland v Germany. Somehow, nobody told Mark Lawrenson who sounded underwhelmed throughout.

Arjen Robben’s reaction to being subbed brought Lawrenson to life as he managed to fit in a bad pun that doesn’t really work that “There’s no Arjen team” – Geddit?

Amazingly, it got worse, as he morphed into full David Brent mode, proclaiming that TEAM means “Together Everyone Achieves More”

If the match lasted ten minutes longer, he would have started dancing to Disco Inferno and started singing ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’ by Harold Melvin

Mark Lawrenson : Friend first, Entertainer second, probably a Football Commentator third

Talking of bad puns, Tuesday’s Daily Mirror (There was a copy lying about in the cafe I was having my lunch) backpage headline led with “KINGS OF JOLOEN” in reference to England’s draw with France.

I’m just as confused as you are

Talking of bollocks in the written press, today’s Belfast Telegraph led with a story about shameless bandwagon jumper Gary Lightbody being “attacked online” for cheering on the Republic of Ireland in Euro 2012.

The report had no examples of this ‘Abuse’ nor did they quote any of this ‘Abuse’

Typing ‘Gary Lightbody’ and ‘@garysnowpatrol’ into Twitter doesn’t bring up any abuse. Strange that.

It’s almost as if they pre-empted a story which didn’t happen. Pretty fucking pathetic if you ask me.

THE TWITTER LIST

This week, has seen The Independent newspaper reveal their Twitter 100 list, using a calculated formula to determine who Britain’s most influential Tweeters are.

Inevitably, this has provoked a reaction. I wouldn’t get too worked up about it, it’s just a bit of harmless fun. (Ok, I’ll admit it, I’m gutted I wasn’t included on it)

So, to commemorate this, I’m going to do my own alternative Twitter list of who to follow, and the best and worst aspects of Twitter.

I signed up for Twitter in February 2009 after hearing about it in the media and was a bit slow on the uptake. My sole purpose for using it was to plug my Flickr site everytime I uploaded something, and to plug my blog, which was then hosted on Bebo.

Gradually, I got more and more into it, after discovering the various news and information sites using it, and began to become more interactive, and moved away from using it as a tool to promote “Brandrew”

Twitter, like any other social media site is a hard sell to those not on it. You really need to use it to see the benefits.

THE TWITTER GOAL

Like a lot of people, I use Twitter for getting football scores. It would be fair to say, that watching football on Twitter is the new watching football on Ceefax, which is handy, as I will mourn Ceefax when it ceases to exist later in the year.

My first “Twitter goal” came during the Manchester Derby in April 2010.

I was at The Oval that day for the Irish Cup Semi-Final between Linfield and Coleraine. That match kicked-off 15 minutes before the game at the City Of Manchester Stadium.

As I left The Oval, I checked the score and it was 0-0. As it approached what would be 93 minutes, I checked again, still 0-0.

I then hit refresh on my phone, and there was a flurry of tweets alluding to the fact there had been a goal, but not actually saying who to.

Tweets such as “1-0”, “What a dramatic finish”, “Knew there would be a goal” flashed up, as well as one saying “This could be a definitive goal in the title race”

That made me think City had won 1-0 and finished off United’s fading title hopes. I hit refresh again, just to put me out of my misery, and a tweet flashed up “LATEST : Manchester City 0-1 Manchester United (Scholes 90)”

The Twitter goal. A 21st century method of loading up Ceefax and hitting refresh on the latest scores page in the hope that your team have scored.

GOOD POINTS

As you will have guessed, I love having instant access is one of my favourite things. I do have other uses for it. I have instant access to news sites, as well as events listings, and finding out info about TV recordings or free events in Belfast which I may not have been previously aware of.

Also, any question or query I may have, usually can get answered instantly, which is bloody great.

BAD POINTS

Twitter isn’t perfect and has some negative points. One of my main gripes is RT Phishers, who pester celebs for an RT. Worse than that, celebs usually grant these requests, thus filling up my timeline with a list of people who are celebrating their birthday or need cheering up because their cat has just died, when frankly, I couldn’t give a flying fuck.

Birthday requests and shout-outs are for local radio, not for Twitter.

As well as that, there is usually some sob story followed by “worth an RT?” – Ugh, just fuck off.

“Or, I need followers, please RT” – You could always try being interesting, funny, witty or informative. I’ve never followed anyone on the basis of a celebrity RT.

Also taking the biscuit is “Can I get an RT in memory of (Dead Celebrity) so we can get #ripdeadcelebrity trending?” – As sad as a celebrity death is, a hashtag isn’t going to make things better.

If I was a celebrity, I’d have a strict “No RTs” policy on Twitter.

One day, all marketing campaigns and strategies will simply be “Let’s ask Dermot O’Leary for an RT”

PIERS MORGAN

As much as I loathe to give him a chapter, it is quite funny to see him getting owned on Twitter. Though, it should be pointed out, it’s the intellectual equivalent of beating San Marino at football.

I don’t follow him, but people in my timeline RT him. He wrote a double page spread in the Mail On Sunday about being “Twitter pals” with Wayne Rooney.

Usually, he Tweets a “Joke” about Rooney looking like Shrek. Rooney then usually ignores him or replies “Fuck off” – Ahhh, what pals.

Morgan manages the impressive feat of making me feel sorry for Arsenal and their supporters. Some of his classics as self-appointed Gooner Spokesman include boasting about Arsenal demolishing Newcastle (they ended up drawing 4-4) and mocking Swansea just after Arsenal went 1-0 up (Swansea cam back to win 3-2)

NORTHERN IRELAND MEDIA ON TWITTER

Of the two main broadcasters in Northern Ireland, UTV were the first to really “Get” and embrace Twitter. So much so, that the opening credits to UTV Live now feature the show’s hashtag (#utvlive) and profile names appear on captions when reporters appear on screen.

Most of their reporters are on the site, and manage to strike the balance of forwarding on stories (local and national/international of interest) that have just come in through the newswire, as well as tweeting from the scene of stories they are covering, and from court cases (judge permitting)

They also have an automated account posting up stories added to their website and a “What’s on now?” account, like a cyber continuity announcer, announcing what’s on now, and other programming news. BBCNI have since launched a similar account to do BBC 1 NI and BBC 2 NI.

BBCNI were a bit slow off the mark but have come to embrace Twitter with most of their journalists and shows having an account, now signing off Newsline bulletins with a link to their Twitter account (as well as Facebook)

News Letter, mainly through Rebecca Black (@hackedoffhack) have begun to use Twitter to preview the following day’s front page from 10pm onwards. Belfast Telegraph doesn’t do this and have become very defensive in their content, trying to urge people to wait to buy the paper edition in the morning before posting links to stories on their website.

For UK wide newspapers, Sky News now posts the following days covers each night.

Belfast Telegraph, News Letter and Irish News are well represented on Twitter in terms of personnel, and most local papers within Northern Ireland are now starting to embrace Twitter.

NORTHERN IRELAND FOOTBALL

Irish League football has embraced Twitter. So much so, that Leon Knight got a ban (which was later rescinded) for comments made on the site.

A podcast, The Social Club (@thesocialclubni) has proved so successful, it has now moved to UTV’s website. It’s four contributors @holtchris @keith192 @markjmcintosh and @laurejames all have an active Twitter presence.

My own club, Linfield, doesn’t have an official Twitter account, but the unofficial account @linfield_fc offers fans an excellent service on matchdays if you can’t get to the game.

Linfield supporters site South Stand Says @southstandsays is also worth a follow.

Of the dedicated sports departments of print and television, worth a follow are @beltelsportsdes @utvsport @newslettersport and @bbcsportni

Of journalists, Graham Luney (@grahamluneybt) has been described as “Influential” by Joe Brolly. Not sure if that’s an endorsement or not. It’s unknown what Joe Brolly’s opinion of @garethfullerton is, but mine is that he’s worth a follow.

Liam Beckett (@liam_beckett) is worth a follow for his rants on the price of coffee in Belfast. His commentary partner on Radio Ulster Joel Taggart is a recent convert to Twitter (@taggartjoel)

Other journalists worth following include @ourlogie @ulsterrobbo @andrewgillan

As part of their sponsorship with the national team @vauxhallni is an official account with news and competitions for supporters. The IFA’s official account can be found @officialirishfa

Players and clubs worth a follow include @colerainefc @matthew_tipton @distilleryworld @ballymenaunited

Also worth a follow is @talkinballs and @theirishlegue

FOOTBALL

Match Of The Day @bbcmotd now has it’s own official account with goal updates and a running order for the show, which is always handy. For Premier League updates, it’s worth following @premierleague

There are numerous football parody accounts on Twitter, two of the best are Jamie Redknapp @literallyjamie and @thebig_sam

For statistics, trivia and oddities, @mirkobolesan is a must follow. For in-game statistics, it’s hard to look past @optajoe

Journalists and Broadcasters worth following include @stancollymore @iainmacintosh @danwalkerbbc and @henrywinter

Four Four Two (@fourfourtwo) is the best to follow of the football magazines out there.

NI MUSIC

Northern Ireland music is well represented on Twitter with alternative ulster (@aumagazine) and it’s editor (@_chrisjones_) both frequent tweeters.

Northern Ireland’s two biggest outdoor concerts, Belsonic (@belsonicbelfast) and Tennen’t Vital (@tennentsvital) are both on Twitter, keeping fans up to date of line-ups and ticket details.

For concert news, @mcd_productions is worth following.

For local music writing, @edwinmcfee is worth following

Local bands that tweet regularly and are worth a follow include @wondervillains @timwheeler1977 @ktcarnival and @tdcinemaclub

MUSIC

If you love the repeats of the 1977 Top Of The Pops currently running on BBC Four, then @yesitsnumberone and @totp1977 are a must follow.

For general music news @qmagazine and @popjustice are worth a follow.

Journalists worth following include @paulreesq @eve_barlow @petepaphides and @alexispetridis

UTV

As previously stated, UTV have really embraced Twitter.

@utvonair does what it says, and is an online continuity announce for what’s on now, and coming up later on the channel.

UTV journalists that are regular Tweeters and worth a follow are

@dt_utv @markmcfadden @judith_utv @jamie_utv @kenreid_utv @aideen_utv @pamballantine @sharon_utv @ruthgorman_utv @saraneill_utv @alifleming_utv @marcmallett_utv @hagan_utv and @paulclark_utv

BBC NI

Not to be outdone, BBCNI are also represented on Twitter.

@bbcnievents keeps people up to date with recordings and events, and how they can apply for tickets while @bbconeni is their online continuity announcer.

Journalists and presenters worth following are

@jimfitzbiz @lindseyha @mlchealth @jolong03 @tv_natasha @alansimpsonbbc @nialfoster @markdevenport

NORTHERN IRELAND JOURNALISTS/NEWSPAPERS

Northern Ireland journalists now in England and further afield that are worth a follow include @illneelyitv @yolympicorla @skyman64 @jenofcroths @kellyallen01@Eamonn_forde @eamonnholmes and @mrgordonburns

Special mention to @paul_gilmour who is set to join Sky Sports News

Ivan Little (@bigivanlittle) is a phem, phenon, phe, femon, phenomenon.

Unreality TV (@unrealitytv) is a TV blog based in Belfast and well worth folowing.

Journalists and publications based in Northern Ireland include @bmoney_times @janedaybreak @saragirvin @connollymaeve @maureencoleman1 @mrsghenderson @nicolarice82 @news_letter @hackedoffhack @sineaddoyle @kimsshowbizlife @weemcg @thesundaylife @banbridgechron and @gomagonline

UK NEWSPAPERS

Of UK papers, @theipaper is worth a follow, as are @gracedent and @caitlinmoran

For showbiz and celebrity, @deanpiper is worth a follow.

If you enjoy your news light-hearted and ripping the piss, you should follow @newsthump

TV/RADIO

Danny Baker (@prodnose) was made for Twitter, and never fails to entertain. Classic gags include breaking the news that busty girls in your local area waiting to chat were considering withdrawing their advertising from News Of The World due to the phonehacking scandal and breaking the news that a riotous mob had tried to set a barbecue store ablaze during the Tottenham Riots, but it just wouldn’t go up in flames. A must follow. Justin Moorhouse (justinmoorhouse) is also worth following

For news (@itvnews) while Gay Times Magazine (gaytimesmag) is also worth following for TV commentaries. They come into their own during X-Factor.

MANCHESTER UNITED

Manchester United are well represented on Twitter with players (past and present) and many journalists on the site.

Of players, @fizzer18 @themichaelowen and @gnev2 are worth following

From the media side of the fence, @andymitten and @nickcoppack are worth following.

For a supporter’s view @redissue @bbcredwednesday and @unitedrant are worth following

In you love topical and hilarious jpegs, then @beardedgenius is your man

LINFIELD

The Gods in Blue.

Get following @aburnsey14 @geoff20man @kris_lindsay @billyjoe_12 @carvill88 @spidermonkey888 @mulgrew22 @gaulty5

POLITICS

The world of politics has embraced Twitter, with the vast majority of Northern Ireland politicians using Twitter.

These are complimented with party accounts as well. Most Northern Ireland politicians usually engage with followers in debates, or if they have a query.

That said, if I needed to contact a politician about a business matter, I’d prefer to go through an official channel such as a phone call or e-mail.

Last October, Martina Anderson tweeted that she getting ready to appear as a panellist on the BBC TV show ‘Questions and Answers’

If you haven’t worked it out yet, it was Question Time she was booked to appear on.

Question Time (@bbcquestiontime) has become a massive Twitter success story, you often wonder how people watched Question Time without Twitter. It is commonplace for the Trending Topics during the show’s broadcast to be exclusively QT related.

It is always a joy to hear David Dimbleby speak about Hashtags and Tweets, as if he knows what he’s talking about.

The show has inspired a parody Twitter account (@dimblebot), a robotic version of David Dimbleby who frequently “Defeats” and “Eliminates” his panellists.

Andrew Neil (@afneil) is worth a follow

Many of the local journalists and news organisations previously mentioned RT local politicians as part of their work.

NORTHERN IRELAND

If you want to know what Christine Bleakley is up to but can’t be bothered buying Sunday Life, then you should follow the woman herself (@clbleakley)

Former Hollyoaks star Gerard McCarthy (@gerard_mccarthy) is very funny and worth a follow, though he is currently taking a Twitter sabbatical for lent. The Blame Game’s Jake O’Kane is well worth a follow (@jakeokane)

There are many public service on Twitter, with BBCNI providing Travel (@bbcnitravel) and Weather (@newslineweather)

Other public services include Peelers (@policeserviceni) and Met Office (@metofficeni)

If you love information about delayed buses and trains, then (@translink_ni) is the Twitter account for you.

To find out what people in Northern Ireland are Tweeting about, then Trendsmap (@trendsbelfast) is a must follow. Be warned, it’s usually Harry Styles and Justin Bieber.

Happy Tweeting, hope this has helped you find some accounts you previously didn’t know existed.

And I shall end on a shameless plug. You can follow me on @andrewastewart

SO BEBO HAS GONE ……

Seemingly so, or not, depending on who you believe. The site is seemingly offline at the moment due to a “temporary hitch”

There is an irony to it all. I found out about it on Twitter, the main social media I use in place of Bebo, and I am blogging about it on WordPress, the main blogging interface I use instead of Bebo.

It’s quite trendy to knock the site, but it was great in it’s heyday, back in 2006 and 2007.

The site was so big during it’s heyday, it was subject to weekly reports on Newsline about how it was corrupting the youth of the nation.

It seemed there were only two types of people using Bebo : Paramilitaries recruiting people and Paedos grooming people.

No paramilitary ever tried to recruit me and no Paedo ever tried to groom me. Feel quite left out.

Nowadays, the Newsline and UTV Live scare stories focus on Facebook and Twitter, with poor Bebo feeling left out.

It was an innocent text message that started it all for me. I’d been asked about a party that night. It was the first I knew about it, as it had all been organised via Bebo.

So, the next day, I signed up and got hooked. After adding my main circle of friends, people who worked at The Globe, I then sussed out people from school, and the period between school and The Globe, and found myself getting back in touch with old friends I hadn’t seen in ages.

I couldn’t help but think what life working at The Globe would have been like if the social media boom had happened while I worked there. I think every shift would have begun with “Andrew, a quick word about a recent status update”

It is thanks to Bebo that I fell back in love with photography. As per ettiquette, I needed to have a profile photo.

I hate getting my photo taken, so I uploaded some photos of graffiti and murals from my phone. The quality was rubbish, so I went and took better ones with a digital camera.

And thus, I got the bug, and now take photos of everything and anything.

To be honest, photos are the only reason I used Bebo the past three years, as there was very little interaction, but it was great for having a photo archive and for getting jpeg properties for putting onto WordPress.

Unfortunately, it looks like i’ll have to edit two years worth of blog posts containing photos. Thankfully, I made back-ups on Myspace (Yes, I know)

A social media site is only as good as it’s content. Facebook has friend updates, Twitter has news updates, Myspace has music uploads. Bebo …… well?

Also, I got the blog bug as well as I started writing a weekly update on what five songs I was enjoying the previous week, and my thoughts on the previous week’s football.

As well as this, I did concert reviews whenever I went to a concert.

I know that people were reading it, as songs I listed were appearing on people’s flashboxes soon after.

I’d been thinking about leaving for a while, and I took the plunge into WordPress in late 2009. There were so many better features, such as categrosiing and the ability to have more than three previous posts on a page.

Such was my Bebo inactivity, that I would get e-mails reminding me that it was a friend’s birthday, so I would log onto Facebook to wish them a Happy Birthday.

It will always remind me of the last year of my degree, as that’s when I signed up and got the most use out of it.

If this is the end of Bebo, it would have been nice if the pages were kept as an archive rather than being wiped totally.

LOL M8 XOXOXOXOXO BF4LYFE

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : 90 MINUTES – 20th AUGUST 1994

This edition of The Magazine Archive focuses on the short lived weekly magazine ’90 Minutes’

Owned by IPC, who own Shoot and World Soccer, it did seem strange that they would add a third publication to their repotoire.

Ryan Giggs adorns the cover with the main feature not of him, but of how winning the double isn’t enough for Manchester United.

The editor’s note comes courtesy of the magazine’s editor Paul Hawksbee, who now presents an afternoon show on Talksport.

The lead story that week was Billy Bonds shock departure as West Ham United manager on the eve of the new season starting.

The topical cartoon in the news section is frankly disturbing.

Aston Villa had just signed John Fashanu, who was combining his football career with presenting Gladiators. In the cartoon, Fashanu is in manager Ron Atkinson’s office, when Atkinson asks him for a favour, which turns out to be Ron Atkinson becoming a Gladiator.

In other news, Nottingham Forest manager Frank Clark has urged star striker Stan Collymore to “Settle down and find the love of a good woman”

I’m not going to make a comment on that.

With or without the love of a good woman, Collymore was Britain’s most expensive footballer 12 months later after a £8.5m transfer to Liverpool.

The much hypes article on Manchester United explains that United’s share price rises when they win and falls when they lose. Hardly earthshattering revelations.

Meanwhile, ’90 Minutes Live’ is an opinion piece where fans are interviewed on an issue outside a ground.

Supporters were interviewed outside Ibrox prior to a pre-season tournament involving Rangers, Sampdoria, Manchester United and Newcastle United about a possible British Super League.

Jamie McDonald, a 15 year old Celtic supporter helpfully informs us “I don’t like English football or English people – or Scottish people”

Match Of The Day, celebrting it’s 30th birthday that week, gets a double page spread in it’s honour looking back at it’s illustrious history.

With the Premier League season about to start, 90 Minutes predicted the league places for the season ahead.

They said Arsenal would be Champions, how wrong they were.

It did turn out to be an eventful season for Arsenal, with Paul Merson revealing drug addiction, George Graham being sacked for taking a bung, and on the pitch, they reached the European Cup Winners Cup final.

Eventual champions Blackburn Rovers were predicted to finish 4th.

Aston Villa were predicted to finish 6th and spent most of the season battling against relegation, while Nottingham Forest were predicted to finish 12th, but ended up 3rd.

They were spot on with the prediction of Ipswich Town to finish 22nd, which they did, including a 9-0 defeat at Old Trafford.

In their foreign round-up, David Ginola featured prominently, unhappy that the PSG board vetoed a move to AC Milan. A year later, he ended up at Newcastle United. Tough break.

Towards the end is possibly the worst competition prize ever, as you can Richard Keys Sky Sports jacket, which aaccompanies a piece where the former TV-AM presenter is given a makeover.

If you can remember Sky’s coverage of the early years of the Premier League, it was clear he needed one.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : Q – JANUARY 1990

The first Q of a new decade, looking back at the last decade, as the cover has a montage of 1980s icons Madonna, U2, Bob Geldof, Mark Knopfler, George Michael with the headline “THE 80s : HOW WAS IT FOR YOU?”

For me, not bad. I missed the first three years, but I spent the rest of the decade crapping my nappy then watching Ghostbusters cartoons. Good times.

Gary Glitter is the subject of Q’s “Who the hell does ……..” feature. The answer we now know, is a big fat fuck paedophile.

In news, Terence Trent D’Arby suffered a humiliating episode at the hands of an autograph hunter, who asked him which one of Mili Vanilla he was.

In Adwatch, you could get a free chart album with 50 Budweiser ringpulls or a chart album for £2 with 18.

Considering the charts were dominated by Sonia, Jive Bunny, Jason Donovan and Reynolds Girls, you’d need to drink about 50 tins of Budweiser to want to listen to any of them.

The 1980s gets reviewed with a Q and A with a headline act from each year such as Suggs (1980) Human League (1981) Culture Club (1982) and so forth.

An advert in the magazine promotes that Queen were selling their Budapest concert available on CD Video, an early version of the DVD.

The 50 Best Albums Of 1989 looks back at the best albums of the year, featuring Stone Roses debut album, still lauded by music writers 22 years on.